It was something that hadn’t been done in a decade. And the 2021 Escalon High varsity football Cougars did it – they earned the Trans-Valley League title outright, claiming sole possession of the crown on Friday night, Oct. 29.
The championship was the best way to celebrate Senior Night, with recognition for the senior football players and cheerleaders, as well as honoring their parents and families for the continued support through the years.
The varsity football seniors were introduced prior to kickoff of the game with Livingston and as each was announced, they ran through a ‘tunnel’ of underclassmen teammates and assistant coaches, then met up with head coach Andrew Beam and assistant Joe Cowan. Both coaches offered handshakes and a few comments, with Beam presenting each senior with a single rose, to be passed on to family members greeting the player at midfield. A little information about each player was read by PA announcer Nick Caton as they made their way through the tunnel and on to rendezvous with their families.
At halftime of the varsity game, instead of a prepared routine performed by the EHS cheerleaders, it was time for recognition of the senior members of the cheer squad, also presenting a flower to family members joining them on the field. Coaches Chrissy Zerr and Sierra Johnson offered some encouraging thoughts to the senior girls, while Caton also provided some information about them for the crowd.
Senior football players on the team this year include Tyler Medina, Matthew Smith, Alfonzo Gonzalez, Christian Tinoco, Luis Garcia, JP Lial, Jacob Dugo, Caden Gonsalves, EJ Lewis, Jorge Gonzalez, Stephen Percey, Pietro Orlando, Preston Ball, Nathan Chavez, Aidan Freitas, Richard Kilgore, Sebastian Snow, Kevin Gastelum and Chris Soto.
The senior cheerleaders honored were Kim Abney, Taylor Cullum, Drew Cunningham, Emily Grillo, Emily Gutierrez, Hannah Luna and Taylor Ogan.
For many of the seniors, the season represented a full circle moment, as they began their Escalon High School careers on a freshman team that went 1-9 during the season. This year, the team has gone 9-1 so far, with a perfect 6-0 run through the Trans-Valley League.
“It feels amazing, working so hard these last four years, all the summers,” said Tyler Medina, one of this year’s team captains.
Added fellow captain EJ Lewis: “It’s crazy and it’s cool to see our fellow teammates progress.”
It was also learned on Friday night that rival Ripon, which was hoping to win their game against Hughson to claim a co-championship, lost to the Huskies, meaning each team in league – except the Cougars – had at least two TVL losses.
The Escalon squad now prepares for postseason play.
The next game at Engel Field will be on Friday, Nov. 12, a quarterfinal playoff contest in the Sac Joaquin Section Division V playoffs.